When Katie Graham told Darren Robertson about her idea for an all-natural, savoury mite spread along the lines of Vegemite, the Three Blue Ducks chef got deja vu – his partner and food media personality Magdalena Roze had the exact same idea. So he introduced the two women and they decided to collaborate.
Two years of development – and lots of sticky black mite – later, the pair have launched Oomite, a salty, bitter and umami-packed spread with 100 per cent natural ingredients, including organic miso, spent brewer’s yeast, malter barley, organic fermented soybean paste and Olsson salt.
“It was important to both of us to make sure there’s nothing artificial like preservatives, thickeners, flavours or funky ingredients,” Roze tells Broadsheet.
Friends and family were the first taste-testers, and while it probably helped to have a top Sydney chef by your side to give feedback, the biggest challenge was winning over the pickiest of eaters: kids.
“When my son Archie asked for more of ‘mummy’s yummy bitter jam’, we knew we got it right,” Roze says.
From there, they sent it off to friends in the food and restaurant community to experiment with and try at home; the likes of Mike McEnearney (Kitchen by Mike, Natalie Paul, Palisa Anderson of Boon Cafe and Saint Peter’s Josh Niland gave it a thumb- up.
The spread is made in small batches and filled into jars by hand. Because of the labour-intensive process, the pair are focusing on supplying to cafes for them to sell to their customers.
It’s served with sourdough and croissants at Three Blue Ducks in Byron Bay, but Robertson’s also snuck it into porchetta, kimchi and palmiers. Elsewhere, it’s been slathered on sourdough crumpets and cheese-and-ham scrolls, and has made appearances in pizza al taglio, whipped ricotta, beef brisket marinade, stout pies, chocolate cookies and even a caramel slice.
The pair is based in Byron and first approached local restaurants and cafes in the area. But the list of Sydney partners is expanding; you can find Oomite on menus at Rising Sun Workshop, Single O Surry Hills and CBD, Rocker and Victor Churchill. They say more are being added all the time.
“Especially in the current climate, it makes sense for us to keep it manageable and do whatever we can to help our hospo mates out,” Roze says.